Following a second quarter that saw all-star center Karl Anthony-Towns score 11 of his 17 first half points, on 5-6 shooting, to give Minnesota a 64-62 lead, Washington knew they needed to adjust all around. Enter Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. Parker and Portis, would combine for 19 points and 6 rebounds in the third quarter helping Washington outscore Minnesota 35-23. The Wizards wouldn’t be threatened again, defeating the Timberwolves 135-121.
Portis finished with a team high 26 points and a game high 12 rebounds, nearly matching Towns overall, while Parker, added 22 points and 6 rebounds on 9-13 shooting. Anthony Towns scored a game high 28 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out 7 assist to pace Minnesota, while Derrick Rose posted 18 points off the bench.
Bobby Portis – Coming in, the first priority for Washington if they wanted to position themselves for a win was to match Karl Anthony Towns production, either by committee or get a big performance from someone in the front court. Portis was up to the challenge. After knocking down a couple of three pointers to force Towns to have to take away air space to defend him, Portis went to work on the block. Jump hooks, runners, running hooks, to score throughout the game while making Towns work on defense and on the boards. In the fourth, Portis posted 10 points and 3 rebounds while holding Towns to 4 points and 1 rebound. This is the type of performance that may have us saying getting Portis in the trade for Porter was a steal. Key moving forward is for him to be consistent with this level of production. If he is, Washington becomes an entirely different animal for opposing teams to deal with.
Jabari Parker – Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has said for a while that when Jabari Parker is pushing ball down the opponents throat, at his size, he becomes nearly impossible to stop due to the combination of his 6’9, 250 pound frame and guard like quickness. In second half, especially the third quarter, that’s exactly what Parker did and the Timberwolves had no answer. It’s one of the few games this season where Portis and Parker both exploded in the same game. Parkers versatility, skill and athleticism, gives Washington an added weapon that is hard to game plan for. He was efficient (9-13 FG) and took what the defense gave him while also moving well to open spots without the ball. It was the type of performance that showed why he was taken 2nd overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Unselfishness – Beal had a GOOD not great night according to his standards, however, he still impacted the game in every way. While not shooting well (7-19 FG/ 2-7 3FG), Beal showed maturity in his game by not forcing the issue. Beal dished out a team high 8 assist, grabbed 7 rebounds and excellent on the defensive end, finishing with 3 steals. Selfless play that contributed big in the win over Minnesota. Beal wasn’t alone. Dekker, who hasn’t played much over the last few games was huge off the bench, scoring 11 points and handing out 3 assist in 14 minutes of action. “I give Sam credit. He’s been working,” said Scott Brooks. “He's been coming in on every off day, coming in on all of our optional days, and he even worked out after our last home game here after the game. That's the sign of a pro. You have to be ready when you do get called because you never know [when you’ll] get called, you got to step up, and he did. I give him a lot of credit.” Selfless approach by players was key in the victory over Minnesota and will be key moving forward.
Offensive Rebounding – Minnesota came into the game ranking third in offensive rebounding at 11.7 a game. Washington has been among the worst in rebounding all season long, ranking 27th. To put it simply when Washington doesn’t rebound, they lose. Against Minnesota, the Wizards grabbed more offensive rebounds (15-12) and matched the Timberwolves in total rebounds, grabbing 46. Washington won going away. Rebound, it’s a win for Washington more times than not. Simple as that.